The last few days of tai chi practice have been spectacular. The sense of chi flowing through me, e sense of movement of the subtle body, the sense of bones and ligaments aligning, the sense of power in the core and limbs, the sense of slowness of movement and deliberate movement… It’s been great. Thank you.
Today was less emotionally spectacular… Less a whole movement… Than the last few days. See, when I first started tai chi, it was count movements in the qi gong forms, so as to know, sixteen repetitions of this, then the next posture set, another sixteen repetitions. But now, today, my brain is so used to counting during qi gong, that it’s started counting breath cycles instead of physical movements. And I’m discovering that this is wrong— each movement, in order to be tortoise-slow, is composed of several breath cycles…. And it doesn’t matter how many breath cycles it takes. It could be six for this posture, and ten for that one, or nine for this other one. But the goal is to have the number of each physical movement be the same. And if the brain gets lost in counting breaths, it forgets to count repetition of postures. Hmmm!
This is what I mean in today’s title about separating the subtle from the gross. I know it’s a phrase from alchemical circles, but I found today that the breath needs to flow in an orderly and regular but uncounted way, and then some focus can be on the body’s physical movements, while the uncounted breath does its job — filling you with clean oxygen and letting you move,
If I ignore the fact that I don’t know how many repetitions I did of each movement in the qi gong forms, I’d say it was a spectacular practice… It lasted about forty minutes, which is unusual; and I know that the two qi gong forms were about 18 minutes, which means that the tai chi form was about 20 minutes. But there is one other thing worth mentioning,
The last three days, with the improvement in slowing down the form, the sense of chi flowing through me has been incredible, it’s been awesome, and a reminder of my practice when I first started. Then, it seemed like all I had to do was stand in a posture and chi would start flowing. But now, after four days of flowing chi, the flow has started to feel like a trickle rather an s flood. Today I felt more normal than I did in practice the last few days.
And I realized today that this is supposed to happen. I’ve had three or four awesome-feeling days, when my body was adjusting to a new pattern, a new speed. When that happens, of course, for a while it feels like happy ants crawling through your capillaries and veins and arteries. But now the body is settling into a new rhythm, and it’s easier to focus on (and work with) the breathwork and the body movements without feeling the chi flow.
In other words, the chi flow that I think feels so awesome is, perhaps, a bit of body resistance breaking down. Or maybe it’s just resistance. When the chi flow adjusts to the new speed, the tingly sensation will go away, and the new speed and the new breathwork that goes with it will be normal. So the sense of flowing chi is a sign or signal that the body is going through a process of breaking down obstacles and barriers, and finding more efficient paths and routines.
The sense of return to normality isn’t a diminishment of the miracle; it’s the continuation of it.